Undetected water leak destroys couple’s kitchen; insurance won’t pay

Updated: Sep. 12, 2019 at 9:10 PM EDT
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MECHANICSVILLE, Va. (WWBT) - Alfred and Dorothy Branch recently found out a water leak that decimated their kitchen walls and floor is not covered under their homeowners insurance.

They say they have been State Farm customers 34 years so, they think a lot about the $800 a year premium. Their bad experience with a water leak and insurance is a cautionary reminder to immediately check out any signs of moisture around your home.

The microwave is how Alfred and Dorothy cook meals right now. Alfred showed us their unusable kitchen, which is unfit to even walk in.

“You can see it’s not much of a kitchen now. Everything has been torn up and taken out," Alfred said. “It’s been horrible. It’s been horrible. The kitchen is the heart of your home.”

Their conventional stove does work and Dorothy misses cooking all her favorite dishes. But, since the water leak was discovered, walking to the stove or fridge now comes with a risk of bodily injury. You can see the ground outdoors from inside their kitchen.

“The flooring was weak, real soft. We couldn’t walk on it hardly," Alfred said. “So we called the plumber and they were saying it probably was coming from the garbage disposal. That was repaired. When they tore the floor up, they found the leak was coming from the wall of the kitchen sink.”

An undetected water leak has A Richmond couple searching for answers after their homeowners...
An undetected water leak has A Richmond couple searching for answers after their homeowners insurance provider refused to cover the damage.(Source: NBC12)

The pipe with the hole in it behind the wall of the sink was also replaced and the leak stopped.

Then, Alfred called State Farm and got surprised by even more bad news.

“They took our money every month, every year, for years. Now we make a claim to get our kitchen straight, they don’t want to do it," Alfred said. "That’s the most frustrating part.”

Home insurance covers accidental or sudden damages like a pipe bursting and flooding a room in your home. A subtle leak behind a wall can cause extensive damage over time, but gradual damage isn’t covered as explained in a letter to Alfred from State Farm.

“If we had known, we would have addressed the problem but we didn’t know. We did not know," Alfred said.

State Farm said “our hearts go out to the customers” and said visible signs of an ongoing water leak typically are not covered, adding it’s the responsibility of the homeowner to maintain the home.

Dorothy is on oxygen and dialysis three times a week. But help is on the way. The nonprofit Project Homes will start work next week on the kitchen floor. But, the Branches still need someone to donate the cabinets.

“We’ll make it. We’ll make it though. We have strong faith," Alfred said.

If you can help with cabinets for Alfred and Dorothy Brach, give us a call at (804) 345-1212 or message Diane Walker on Facebook.

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